The Health Bill, wind energy and Lords Reform were among the topics discussed at this session.
Asked whether the PM had any comment on the publication of a book about Al Megrahi, the PMS said that the PM’s position on Al Megrahi was clear. Al Mehagri was convicted of killing 270 people and the decision to release him on compassionate grounds was wrong.
Asked whether the Government was going to accept the amendments to the Health Bill expected by Lib Dem peers later that day, the PMS said that he would not speculate on amendments. The Health Bill was due to be considered by the House of Lords over the coming weeks but the Government did not see the case for significant amendments as there had already been a consultation exercise.
Asked whether there would be any smaller amendments to the Bill, and whether the Government would seek to overturn them in the House of Commons, the PMS said that the House of Lords would be discussing the Bill in coming weeks, but the Government did not see the case for significant changes. Amendments would be judged on whether they have a significant impact on the Government’s plans.
Asked whether the Government was concerned about the lack of confidence in the Government’s policy on wind energy, the PMS said that the Government was supportive of the wind industry as part of a balanced energy policy.
Asked how the PM felt about peers being elected to the House of Lords, the PMS said that it was Government policy to reform the House of Lords and the Government had set out proposals.
Asked whether the PM agreed with the DPM’s wish to see elected peers by the next election, the PMS said that this was the government’s policy.
Asked whether it was right to appoint A4E when they were being investigated for fraud allegations, the PMS said that it was not appropriate to comment on an ongoing police investigation. The Department of Work and Pensions had made it clear that if there was evidence of widespread corruption in A4E the commercial arrangement with that company would cease.
Asked whether there was any due diligence carried out when making the appointment, the PMS said that the Government had made a commitment to combat the issue of troubled families and that Emma Harrison had relevant expertise. The PMS said he did not believe No10 were aware of the fraud allegations at the time of appointment.
Asked who would drive the programme forward now Emma Harrison had stepped down, the PMS said that the PM was still committed to helping troubled families and Louise Casey was leading that work.
Asked whether there was an update on the Abu Qatada deportation, the PMS said that there was no further information but the Government was still reviewing all options.
Asked whether the PM was content with the current definition of child poverty, the PMS said that the PM was not satisfied and he had asked Frank Field MP to look into the definition. The PM was still committed to measuring and meeting income-based targets of child poverty, but it was a good idea to look at other measures of social deprivation when working out the best interventions for tackling poverty.